Patch, Patch, Patch

At my age, life is all about upkeep. If it’s not my knee or shoulder needing physical therapy, then it’s my house needing new paint and a new roof. Today I had painters working on refreshing the trim paint. I asked them to come last year and somehow it took them over a year to get around to me. Perhaps moving all their ladders really slows them down.
I came out of the garage to find what looked like a tower of giraffes had taken over the driveway. Tomorrow these ladders will be joined by another gaggle when the roofers show up to start replacing the old shingles. When I asked the roofers what time they would show they told me six AM. I told them they will be alone, but I am not sure how long I will sleep with men walking on the roof.
The timing of all this is good since both Russ and Carter are away. Why should we all be disrupted by men climbing up and peering in the windows. I was up in the gathering room watching a you tube video about how to make a quilt when suddenly a face peered in every window all at once while they painted five windows. I felt a little guilty about sitting on the couch appearing to watch TV, but I did not feel that I needed to explain I was actually learning.
A few years ago Russ made a master list of major jobs that needed to be done as upkeep on our house. Before he left for his business trip he said, “You are doing a good job working your way through the ‘to do’ list. I told him I was not the one “working,” but I am hoping I can get it all done before everything wears out and has to be done again. As far as I can tell I am going to be spending my life just patch, patch patching.

Bringing Maine Home

While I was away on my grand tour I heard that I missed a heat wave of epic proportions in Durham. I saw on Facebook where local friends had posted the thermometer in their cars reading 104° to 110°. Numbers that made me thankful to be up in cool New England. Not that it was cool the whole time I was there and when it was hot they did not have air conditioning to hide in. The hottest day was one when we were in Boston. Carter was at orientation staying in a dorm without air conditioning. I hope she remembers how that felt when she is in the middle of a Boston winter.
I am not sure how I timed this right but I came home to the most glorious late July weather I can remember in 23 North Carolina summers. It was 67° degrees when I woke up this morning. Russ and I decided the most spiritual thing we could do on this perfect Sunday was take Shay up to the Eno for a cool summer walk. Since I need to get back on puritanical eating and exercising plans I thought this was the best way to ease back into real life.
We were hardly the only ones who thought that a nice walk in the woods besides a gently gurgling river was a good idea. But the coolness of the morning and the sunniness of the day made everyone we encountered along the trail just that much kinder and gentler. It was as if the government has suddenly started working effectively, everyone was so happy.
It was not the breakwater walk in Rockport which is my favorite way to get steps, but the climbing up and down the rocks and over fallen trees at the Eno was good for my backside. It was not the hills of Providence, but it was the coolness of a New England summer morning.
After our walk we wanted a healthy lunch where we could could sit outside with Shay. I am still craving New England seafood so we did the next best thing and went and had a salad at Zen Fish. A poke bowl with crab and crawfish tasted nothing like the chowders I had been eating, but then it was much better for me. I am not sure how I am going to substitute something healthy for the orange ginger molasses cookies I discovered in Maine. I may just have to try and recreate them and bake them for my NC friends so I can share a bit of Maine. I can’t afford to recreate the lobster rolls.

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

The last three weeks have been nothing but fun. I have gotten to see so many wonderful friends and have been going, going, going. I wouldn’t change any of it. Everyone was so generous and welcoming. I had fabulous meals, lots of laughs, great games and heart felt conversations. But after three weeks I was definitely Randy’s to go home. Be with a Russ and sweet Shay and sleep in my own bed and veg out.
I woke up at 5:45 At Karen’s in Providence and knew that I had to get on the road as fast as possible. It was Going to be a long twelve hour drive. Karen was so sweet to get up and see me off, but it was a good thing I went then because the traffic getting through Connecticut and New York was not so bad that early in the morning. Then I hit New Jersey and it got a little worried about getting home.
I listened to my book on tape, NPR, pod casts. I talked on the phone many times to Russ. I had a good thirty minutes with Carter on the phone. It all kept me going to push on me get home.  
At last I got here me came in the house and Shay went crazy shaking and jumping up on me like she usually does when Russ comes home. I got the full on love treatment from her for twenty minutes and I realized this was the longest I had ever been away from her.  
I am fully exhausted, but thrilled to be in my own bed with my sweet dog and my sweeter husband. Trips are great, but as Dorothy says, “There is no place like home.”

Road Trip By the Numbers


Day 18 and my last freeloading night with my wonderful high school friend Karen Brown in Providence, Rhode Island. I have had the best day visiting with her and walking her city. It was my shortest day of driving between friends so we had plenty of time to explore and talk, talk, talk. Since I had never been to Providence I had no idea it was so hilly. Karen and I got 14,503 steps today, but luckily we divided those up by stoping for lunch and dinner.  

We lunched in a cute Swedish cafe and splint a sandwich. Since I was wearing my Northeastern t-shirt the nice young man behind the counter was extra good to us because he is going there in the fall as a freshman. He asked what my connection was to Northeastern and I told him my daughter was going in the fall too, but don’t worry Carter I did not embarrass you by telling him your name. For dinner we walked to a place called Red Stripe where we split an appetizer, salad and main course. After dinner we came back to Karen’s where we discussed my trip by the numbers.  
I have been on the road for 18 days. Tomorrow will hopefully be the last at 19 if I can drive the 12 hours home to Durham. In total I drove about 39 hours and went about 2,000 miles. I walked 174,841 steps in the last 18 days which I never would have done without the kindness of friends willing to walk with me. On the other hand we will not speak of the calories eaten.
I visited 34 friends; nine from Dickinson College, 7 from the Ethel Walker School years, 4 family relations, 3 Boston Friends, and 11 people who are family members of my friends, who I now also consider friends.
I have 10 thank you notes to write to all the kind people who put me up, fed me meals, took me out and entertained me. And now the awards:
For the most items cooked for meals she served me the award goes to Nancy Mack Von Euler. There were at least 15 different items cooked just for one salad.
For the person who had me cook the most, the winner is Warren Erickson, who could not be beaten in this category since I spent the most time at his house.
For the most games played with me the winners are the Suzanne Worden, Steve and Jack Farley for twos night of bridge, that made me crave playing bridge again.

The award for making her husband have lunch with me on his birthday, even though he didn’t know me, goes to Julie Williams Wagner and her husband “Larry Chip.”

For the most collaborative puzzle partner the winner is Janet Nathenson Del Valle who could always find the hammer piece when I was looking for it.

The award for the person who met me the furthest from home goes to Rena Ronson for meeting me in NYC from LA.

The cutest baby hands down goes to Sawyer Ryan and the best new parents are Cory and Eric.
The best sneaky way to pick up the check at every meal goes to Stori Stockwell Cadigan.
The meal splitter award goes to Karen Appel Brown who allowed me to taste more yummy things without guilt.

Person who came the longest distance to take a walk on the hosptest day goes to Karen Polcer Bdera.

Best political discussion goes to Jamie Kyte Sapoch who always knows how to phrase things in kindness.
Best fast draw at picking up the check goes to Steve Kohn, who always takes me and Wendy to French Bistros so we can pretend we are still in France together.
Best Broadway musical companion was Wendy Yazusian who can still sing better than most broadway performers.
Finally to best family members who are storing Carter’s college stuff until she can get to Boston in January, the award goes to Andrea and Micheal Lange.
All in all it has been a most fun trip getting to catch up, visit, play, eat and talk with so many old friends. Total years I have known all these people is 912 years and that is in people years. I have to count myself as one lucky person to call them my friends.

Friends Side By Side

I left Maine this morning, bidding farewell to Clam Cove until next summer when I invite myself again to Warren’s. As usual the visit was too short. We did not get done the organization chores of his extensive collections that we always talk of doing. This just means I will need to keep returning until we get around to it.
I am on my last lap of this east coast road trip and I saved some very good friends for the return trip. Today I drove back to Manchester by the sea to spend the day and night with my Dickinson friend Janet Nathenson Del Valle, her husband Frank and her youngest daughter Isabel. I love seeing Janet because there is hardly a moment where we are not laughing or telling stories.
As a professional freeloader I am quite appreciative of the hospitality that all my friends have shown me when I come and camp out at their houses, but it can be tiring to be constantly visiting. With Janet it has been nothing but relaxing. She had a big puzzle started and we immediately sat down and began to work the complicated piece.  
Turns out we are very compatible puzzle solvers. “I’m looking for a green piece with three innies and one outie that has a bit of pink,” I would say. And Janet would put her hands right on it and place it in its rightful spot. When we were looking for a very odd shaped piece Janet’s standard response was, “I’ve seen that one.”  
Frank kept saying, “Have you finished the puzzle yet?” He did not know how hard a puzzle can be. We took an eye break so we could eat the yummy dinner Janet made of Indian inspired chicken and vegetables with a coconut cilantro lime sauce. I was especially thankful for a healthy meal void of sugar.
After dinner Frank did the dishes so Janet and I could sit side by side and work the puzzle. I told her it was a good thing we did not do puzzles in college because we never would have done any studying if we had. It was a most relaxing way to catch up. I have to say that I have not had a moment of boredom on the whole trip. My only sadness is that I eventually need to sleep when I would rather be spending time talking.
There just isn’t enough time in life to visit with all the friends I love. I hope that my friends will let me repay their hospitality and come and stay with me. Guests should always leave before their host wishes they were gone, but seeing Janet one night is just too short, especially since we have to finish the puzzle before I go.

Making the Most of Maine Moments

My last full day in Maine and I tried to pack in as much as possible and I am still not ready to go. I was heading up to Northport to spend a couple hours with my Walkers/Dickinson/Pi Phi friend Jamie Kyte Sapoch when I got a message from Lynn Toms in Durham. Her sweet Wheaton Millie passed away from cardiac arrest this morning. I was in the middle of no cell service Maine and I finally got a signal to call her.
Poor Lynn could hardly talk because her heart is so broken. No one loves animals more than Lynn and Millie was the one she loved the best. I wish I were there to help ease the pain, but Lynn knows that I am sending lots of psychic hugs. If you know Lynn, reach out to her. The loss of a dog is almost the hardest thing to face.
After that series of sad calls I pulled into Jamie’s sweet house on the beautiful Maine coast. John, her husband and my Dickinson classmate was there as was her grown daughter Emily. Jamie and I went to sit in the Adirondack chairs right at the waters edge with big Maine pottery mugs of yummy iced tea.  

It was a great couple of hours of catching up, philosophizing, talking about life’s stages. Jamie has always been someone I looked up to since she was two years head of me in school and seemed to be just that much more with it. I realized that she is my only friend who I went to both high school and college with and was in the same sorority. Jamie has always been both fun and thoughtful at the same time and that is not always a combination that goes together. Before I left Jamie gave me a heart shaped rock. It was such a treasure I will cherish.
After our visit I returned to Belfast, Maine. When I was there on Sunday with Russ and Warren I went into a sewing and art store. They had a lot of quilting fabrics and I was immediately drawn to them. Since I had two men waiting for me I didn’t entertain the idea of thinking about making a quilt, but today I was alone and had plenty of time.

I stopped first at a little place called Daily Soup to get something to eat so I could shop without any fear of low blood sugar. I had a bowl of curried vegetable soup and it was divine. Just what I needed to counteract my Portland day of food. Then I was off to the Fiddlehead Artisan.
It had been a long time since I had done any quilting so decided to pick out a simple pattern just so I had a guide about how much fabric to buy. Then came the difficult part, deciding which of the fabulous fabrics I wanted to get. I spent over an hour, which I felt like was a very long time, until the shop girl told me that I was very decisive and she had a customer yesterday who took five hours. I might have lost my mind if I had taken that long.
Having this bag of fabric in the back of my car now gives me something big to be excited about going home for besides Russ and Shay. When anyone asks me, “What are you going to do when Carter goes away to college?” I can say, “I’m making a quilt.”
Jamie asked me if I was ever bored and I honestly had to say that there is hardly a minute in the day to be bored. There are so many friends to see, projects to do, art to create, food to cook, words to write and people to help, let alone trips to take and places to see. If I just work on all the things I have going already I will still not finish before I die at the ripe old age of 99.

Tonight is my last dinner in Maine and there is a crowd of a dozen people coming to Warren’s. It has been a very fast week as Maine weeks tend to be. I am already missing rocking on the porch on Clam Cove. Thanks to Warren for his enduring hospitality.  

Duck Fat at Last

Years ago when a Russ, Carter and I were on a trip through Portland we tried to go eat at a great local restaurant called Duck Fat. Although we knew it was a highly rated place we did not think that we would have to wait more than four hours for a table. Needless to say we did not wait to eat that day.

Fast forward seven or so years and I finally got to have lunch at Duck Fat with my friend Warren and the only bad part was Russ and Carter were missing it. Duck Fat is known for its Belgian type French fries cooked in the namesake oil. You have your choice of five sauces and Warren and I got the horseradish mayo to share with our small fries. Of course it was not my sauce of choice since I wanted the Thai Chili Mayo, but Warren’s choice was delicious. If we had gotten the large we could have had two sauces, but that would have involved more guilt than I needed. Sharing a small was the right way to go.
We skipped their famous milk shakes and I had a special very small house smoked salmon salad with squash and strawberries. It sounds like a strange combination but it worked well. Warren had a turkey panini because he is a very white man. All good.

Since we had not eaten breakfast and had such Presbyterian sized servings at lunch Warren and I decided we deserved a cookie while we walked up and down the hills of Portland. We searched out a molasses ginger cookie amongst the many bakeries in the city. Portland is known for bakeries and breweries. We had no guilt about going into a bakery and looking around and leaving without purchasing if we did not find the exact right cookie.  
After four miles of walking we ended up settling on one from a place called Two Fat Cats that was just across the street from Duck Fat. It is not lost on me that Fat is in the name of both places. It was a fine cookie, just not as good at the Orange Julius ginger Cookie we had on Sunday in Belfast, from the antique/book and coffee shop. I have no business eating these cookies and I blame this all on Warren. It is a good thing I am only visiting him for a week in the summer. Now I just have to ween myself off sugar again.
One fabulously healthy thing I did have at Duck Fat was the special spritzer of the day, a lime and cucumber number with soda water. It was light and refreshing so I recreated it tonight back at Clam Cove with a little diet ginger ale. Time to cleanse.

Mission Monday

Rarely do I get up before the sunrise except to use the bathroom and go back to sleep. Never do I get up before the sunrise on vacation and stay up. Somehow my friend Warren convinced me to change my ways and get up at 4:35 AM this morning to go with him to his church to serve breakfast. It turned out to be one of the most fun vacation activities.
Warren has been volunteering with about a dozen other people to provide a free, hot cooked to order breakfast to anyone who wanted to show up at the Camden Baptist church on Monday morning, no string attached. It is a fellowship which is highly appreciated and badly needed in a place that appears to have much.
Warren is committed to arriving with the early crew to set up, prep food and serve breakfast then clean up. He “got permission” for me to be a guest server. Turns out that a few high school students didn’t show up to work and I was badly needed. It was fun to get to play “waitress.”

“Hi, I’m Dana. Welcome to breakfast. Our special today is overnight French toast with or without blue berries. Can I get you a drink while you look over the menu?” I said as I handed each guest a lamented menu offering eggs, made any way, omelets with your choice of cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, bacon, sausage; homemade Warren made home fries, oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, blueberries, or walnuts, English muffins, white or wheat toast, bacon, sausage, the special of the day, yogurt or cereal. The drinks are equally plentiful and all for free.  
After getting a guest the drink or drinks of their choice I took their order on a preprinted slip of paper that made it easier for the kitchen to understand the orders. Warren was the kitchen expeditor so I turned the slips into him with a friendly, “order in!” When it was completed he called out “order up,” and one of us three servers would deliver the food. We also cleared tables, refilled coffee and reset tables.  
The head of this well oiled machine Sue had her ten year son, Joe with her today. He was eager to help. I quickly saw the value he provided and he became my sidekick. “Joe, can you fill me two coffees?” I would say as I also handed him plates to be scraped and stacked in the dish pan. He was a god send.
Today was a special day where breakfast ran from 6:30 – 10:00 and there were two hairdressers who came and offered free haircuts as well as a table with things like soap, socks, tooth brushes and other personal items for guests to take home. 26 people got haircut after their breakfast.

After most people had eaten the kitchen crew came out and sang a song Warren wrote for the guests still assembled. I won’t say a thing about their singing, but it was very festive.  
When it was all said and done we had fed 96 people to be exact, a record number for this breakfast. Although I was totally exhausted from drying all the silverware, since the breakfast is served on real dishes, I really liked being a waitress. I might starting going by “Flo.”

Day of Walking 

This morning Russ announced that is was so hot in Durham that it was reported to feel like it was 115°. Thank goodness it was only 62° here first thing in the morning with a perfectly blue sky. With the down right chilly morning it was perfect to get in as many steps as we could. Russ set off ahead of Warren and I and walked to the break water so he could get in his weekly call to his Dad while walking.

Warren and I met him at the parking for the break water and we booked out to the light house in record speed. Since it was still early there were very few other walkers to slow us down. The only deterrents were when we came upon the father and mother who were trying to extract a fish hook from their young son’s nose and his brother sitting on the side of the rocks, head in hands, obviously the guilty caster who hooked his brother. The little boy with the hook was very brave and silent as we heard the father call for the pliers. We just kept moving until I noticed that the rubber sole of my ten year old Keens was coming off from the back. Hoping not to trip and fall in the ocean as it slapped the bottom of my sole with each step I slowed down my pace.
After the first walk of the day we got ready to go to Belfast to meet Sheppy and Dick Vann for lunch. We arrived in the cute harbor town a little early so we walked the streets looking in the stores. Once of the best things about Maine is the originality of the stores. My very favorite one was a fabric and art supply store. I cold have spend a year and a million dollars there. I may still need to go back.
Lunch with Sheppy and Dick was lively as ever. Sheppy and I had a year’s worth of catching up to do. After we covered all the regular topics we got onto politics. You know how quiet and demure I am so it came as quite a surprise when a women sitting behind us leaned over to share some political news with us about Sarah Huckabee Saunders having better hair and makeup now that there is a new communications director. Thank goodness our restaurant neighbor was in agreement with us about the state of the government. Turns out she and her husband we from Pawleys Island. You meet the nicest southerners in Maine.

After parting from Sheppy and Dick we walked the rest of Belfast, crosing the foot bridge to go to the eastern side of the river and back. On our way home we drove Russ through the bayside community of Northport. If I had a house in Maine I would want it to be in this little Victorian community with tiny homes close together that had once been a Methodist camp.

In direct contrast we stopped at a big mountain retreat center that had been built by MBNA when they were still a bank. We drove to the top of a mountain to the summit with glorious views of all of Penobscot Bay. The center had 40 cabins you could rent and a big fitness center. It had no character and no soul and there was hardly a person anywhere on the giant property.
We arrived home and I in my exhaustion feigned need to write this blog, while Russ went back out for a last walk so he could break the 20,000 step mark. I am perfectly happy with my 14,000 steps even if they are only 2/3 the length of Russ’ stride. It’s 68° here now and I am so glad I am not in 115° anywhere else.

Favorite Maine Things

There are a few things I absolutely love about Maine. First are my friends who live in Maine. My friend Warren who lets me and Russ stay at his house for as long as I want probably should come first. He will give me hell if he is not at the top of the list. Not only does he provide a fabulous room and a Howard Johnson’s to play in he allows me to invite my other favorite Maine people over for meals.
Today we had our Walkers friend Julie and her husband Chip, or Larry as he is so known as, over for lunch. As a southerner I decided to just call him Larry Chip just so I was never wrong about who I was talking about. We turned the lunch into a birthday celebration for Larry Chip. He has been married to Julie for 31 years and I had never met him. But now Larry Chip as well as Julie are some of my favorite Maine things.

Yesterday we went to a Lobster shack in Rockport called Claws and had lobster rolls and clam chowder and those are definitely at the top of my list as well as Russ’. Russ is scheming about how he can get back to Claws quickly and have more chowder.

After our birthday lunch today we went to walk the Rockport breakwater. The walk is almost a mile long out the rocks to the light house. Warren had lent me his favorite hat to wear on the sunny day. It was quite a windy day and I was happy to have it. When we reached the lighthouse Warren went to take a photo of us. He took one, and the asked us to more a little to take another and then again. Just as he was taking the third shot the wind lifted the hat off my head and it hit Russ in the face and fell in a hole in the rocks of the breakwater. I knew I was in trouble with Warren for losing his favorite hat.

Russ tried to reach it and even he with such long arms could not get it. Warren did not panic, but found a guy with a fishing pole who came and fished the hat out of the hole. So Maine ingenuity is one of my favorite things. 

Tonight we had Warren’s mom and sister Donna over for dinner, so giving two parties in one day is a favorite Maine thing.  This also meant that we had dessert twice in one day, another Maine only event.

Tomorrow we are going to lunch with Sheppy and Dick Vann, so I love that I still get to see Sheppy in Maine even though she has left Durham. I hope that my other favorite thing, the cool Maine weather, holds up tomorrow.

You Can’t Teach An Old Dog

Russ and I finally made it to Maine! I had to endure him on a conference call for the whole drive, but I did my best not to make too many snide comments. As soon as we reached Warren’s Russ parked himself on the front porch over looking Clam Cove for his last three hours of calls.
Warren and I had shopping to do for guests we are having for lunch tomorrow so we went off to go to Beth’s farm stand. This is a real Maine institution. Earlier in the year I read an article about the 5 best baked goods in America. Beth’s was one of the five for their strawberry shortcake. We bought some fresh berries and got the homemade biscuits and the farm fresh cream to make our own shortcakes for the lunch party tomorrow.
While we were in the car we got a text from our friend Julie who is coming for lunch. She had a question and since I was driving I asked Warren to text her back. For a man who still has a flip phone, texting was a very new skill. Calling it a skill is generous since it did not quite work out.
“Where are the numbers? Oh, I found them. But where are they showing on the screen.”
I pulled over and looked at what Warren was trying to do. His fingers for some reason were not registering the keys he was pushing. I think my phone recognized a virgin texter and was not having any of it.
“I think it is not working,” Warren told me. He handed the phone over to me and I deftly texted without an issue. It just might not be possible to teach an old dog new tricks.

Flexibility Pays Off

Carter had her second day of orientation. Russ was working in Boston today and my plan was to stay in town until Carter was finished so I could pick her up and have a few minutes with her before dropping her at Logan. After I would head up to Maine after dropping her off.
Last week Russ alerted me that he could come to Maine with me. I told him I would wait and we could drive Friday morning together. He said that I should go ahead and he would rent a car. Renting a car one way is a ridiculous cost.  

Russ did make time to have breakfast with me this morning. We planned on going to a place on Charles st. We walked across the common and upon arrival we noticed a sign on the door that said they were closed due to a power issue. An other young couple also were attempting to eat there. They appeared to be local so when they said, “OK, I guess we’ll just go to Tatte.” I told Russ we should follow them. It turned out to be a great call because I really liked my avocado toast.
As the time to get Carter was drawing near Russ volunteered to take my bags to the car. It was then that he realized that my original idea to drive together made more sense. He had a business meeting and dinner in the afternoon, but I could hang on my own. So he canceled his expensive rental and I called my friend and told him of our new plan. Thank goodness he is so accommodating.

Russ had to move rooms in the hotel so he had a space to hold his business meeting. This turned out to be a great bonus for me as It had the best view of Boston. I really don’t mind spending another night. I took Carter to the airport and unfortunately for her her plane is delayed. Since she is getting into Charlotte so late she is going to stay with her friend there and drive up the mountain in the morning. This is a plan I like much better than her driving so late at night.
While Russ was meeting I went down the street to a little cafe to get some tea. The cute girl behind the counter said, “Do you remember me from earlier today?” I rally did t and my face must have said that. “It was around 11:00 this morning and the sidewalk was very crowded and you stopped and invited me to cross in front of you. I remember you because I love your shirt and bag.” Thank goodness I was memorable for something nice. It is not always the case. It was easy for me to let the nice woman pass in front of me. I didn’t have any place I had to be. I was thrilled that such a stylish young woman liked my outfit. Maybe I am getting more flexible in my old age.

Berlin Bound

Orientation today made everything real about Carter going to Germany in August. We arrived on Campus very early in the morning so she could check-in. Right away she met a darling girl from LA, Isabelle who was also in her program. Russ and I were thrilled that she had a cool mother, Lisa. So together the five of us went over for breakfast and got acquainted.  
Our name tags had black colored ribbons with the word Germany stamped out in gold on them. We searched for more German cohorts. There were an abundance of Greece and England students. Slowly we began to gather other Berlin bound kids. Ten of the sixty heading to Berlin were there today.
Much to Carter’s dismay I went out of my way to find all the parents and talk with them. It was a really nice group of interesting people. You have to be a certain breed who send your kids abroad first semester freshman year. As the kids went off for their own orientation together us parents went to our own room to learn all the specifics about the Berlin experience. I gathered all the names, Phone numbers and emails of the group that was there, being the self appointed connector of the parents. We had two families where English was definitely optional for the parents, but the kids were full blown American.

It was comforting to get to know who our kids were going to spend four months, living, cooking, studying and traveling with. I am more excited about the program than ever. The parents day ended and Russ and I went to catch an Uber on the corner of campus. As we waited a huge group of kids came up and waited for the light turn green. Only after a minute of two did I notice Carter was in the crowd. We gave her a hug and said our goodbyes. Russ was not going to see her for the next four weeks. I on the other hand get to pick her up tomorrow and take her to the airport. I can’t wait to get the low down.

Dreams Do Come True

Carter has always loved Boston. The first time we brought her here she was about seven years old. She walked the whole freedom trail taking in all the revolutionary sites and sharing fun facts about America she had learned in school. Then when we came to look at colleges it became immediately apparent that Boston was the place she wanted to be, Northeastern more specifically. The day in December she got admitted was about the happiest day in our house.
Flash forward to tonight, the night before Carter has orientation. She left camp, drove herself down the mountain to Charlotte and hour and a half away, boarded a plane and flew to Boston. I met her at Logan, so happy to see her after being without her for two weeks. After depositing her suitcase we walked the freedom trail to a Korean restaurant so she could eat some non-camp flavors.
After dinner we continued down the freedom trail and as we rounded the corner to Faneuil Hall Carter suddenly recognized the area from that first trip when she was seven and fell in love with Boston. She burst into tears as she realized this was going to be her city now.
We were having a nice mother daughter moment and a guy came up to try and sells us something or just ask us for money and I turned to him and growled, “Give us a minute, we are having a moment.” He looked at Carter’s tears and realized he might be encountering an angry mother grizzly bear and it would be best if he backed away slowly.  
Instead of being angry I was filled with happiness because it was a fairly tale moment for Carter. Not one where she got a prince, but one where she made her own dreams come true. Isn’t this everything I worked for as a mother?  

Time with Stori Must Mean Lobster

I have had two fabulous days with my friend Stori. As we were going to bed so I could write my blog she said, “Make sure you put in there that I love you.” Well I love her too! This trip has been a wonderful way to reconnect to my dear friends of years gone by, while at the same time I have completely ignored the current world. Not my family, but the rest of the world that makes me crazy.
As for my escapism trip, today was no different. Stori and I got up early and went to someplace called something like the grasslands to walk. It is a protected forest, and fields with lots of trails and hills. We got in more than half of the needed steps for the day before we had to call it quits thanks to the bugs attacking Stori. It is no surprise they went for her and not me since she is much sweeter. Stupid bugs, I am much fatter and had more to offer them.

After cleaning up Stori took me to the singing beach club where we sat in the shade of the lawn and had a perfectly civilized ladies who lunch afternoon. It was the first of my many lobsters for the day. I had been doing so well eating only healthy food on the trip until today.
After lunch it was time to needlepoint and discuss what we are going to do with our houses when our only children both leave for college next month. I think escapism travel is the answer.
By this time more lobster is needed. Stori and I go off to Gloucester to Lobsta Land to eat two different kinds of lobster with all the locals. Since Stori had taken me to two, not one, but two clubs for previous meals I told her that this one was on me. Then I went to the ladies room and she secretly paid the bill! This has created a hostess war. She must come to my house and quickly so I can treat her everywhere. This has been a lovely trend in visiting my friends, but I am beginning to feel like such a free loader.
After dinner tonight we dealt out bridge hands and practiced bidding since Stori is a budding player. The bridge playing is getting to be a theme on this trip too. What could be better, a great friend, lobsters, needlepoint and games. Who needs the real world?

Life Full Circle

Day six of my road trip and I guessed I blinked because life came full circle today. I woke up in Southport at my boarding school roommate, Nancy’s house. She made me a fabulous breakfast and is now in the running for “best breakfast for a free loading house guest” award. We sat on her porch in our PJ’s enjoying a frittata with perfect summer berries on the side and I remembered what was so great about Connecticut summers. Not that I ever had such a nice breakfast at home in Wilton growing up, but the cool morning was reminiscent of my childhood.

I reluctantly departed still wanting to continue the conversations we were having, but I had a three hour drive to Massachusetts and a new baby to see. My flower girl from our wedding, Cory, whose wedding to Eric I attended on the Cape last summer had just given birth six weeks ago to a darling daughter, Sawyer. I had to go and get my hands on that sweet baby while she was still the size that Cory was when I knew her at birth. It hardly seems possible that the baby I played with and baked birthday cakes for was now a mother with a baby all her own.

I spent three wonderful hours visiting a Cory and Eric, holding Sawyer and seeing their wonderful house they are renovating. They have an antique house that has a wonderful barn attached with lots of plans to utilize all the cool spaces. I love when young people embrace old houses and see them for the beauties they are. It was a short visit, but I will be back in Boston often over the next four to five years and will be able to watch both Sawyer’s and the house’s progress.

From Cory’s I had a short trip to my great Walker’s friend Stori’s house where I get to stay for the next two nights. Stori and I went to her club to join her husband John for some drinks on the lawn before dinner. We talked with some of the other members who were interesting and delightful pure Yankees with excellent manners.  
Stori and John are obviously well loved by all the kids who worked there and many of them knew of my existence because they said, “Are you Stori’s friend from high school?” The love that Stori and I have for each other is long standing and eternal. I could see from her young friend’s knowledge that I was coming for a visit that she was looking forward as much as I was to our reunion. It feels like I have scaled many lifetimes in my visits today. Somehow I feel younger, being with such old friends.

Shortest Drive to See My Oldest Friend

After such a great visit with my friend Suzanne and her family the only way I could leave without crying was knowing that I was going to see my boarding school roommate Nancy. As far as planning a road trip it is not ideal to drive seven hours one day and an hour an a half another, but that is how it works since Nancy lives in Southport, Connecticut. But the layering f friends from different eras of my life is a great way to do this.
I first met Nancy when I got to Walkers. She was an “old girl” since she had come as a freshman. She knew the ropes and was happy to share them with me. We were a Mutt and Jeff twosome since she was under five feet tall and under ninety pounds. But despite our size difference we shared that same sense of humor and the ability to see the absurd in many situations.
I arrived at her house earlier than I thought, but since she is an early person too she was fine with that. She was cooking up a storm, grilling chicken and shrimp, cooking beets, and corn. I was wondering if a bunch of other people were coming over due the the large amount of food she was preparing. No, it was all for us. “I couldn’t decide what to make, so I made it all,”

Nancy told me. We are alike in that cooking large amounts issue.
We each made ourselves a lovely salad in a Tupperware bowl which we put in a cooler to take to the Southport Harbor to have a picnic. Nancy had chairs and blankets. “Just in case you want to sit on the ground or in a chair.” Talk about an accommodating hostess. It is no surprise because Nancy’s mother was the same way. When we were in high school I often would come to see her at her house since we only lived about a half hour from each other. Nancy’s Mom, who was a full time Doctor, with seven children, would meet me at the door with a plate of home made snickerdoodles and some other kind of cookie. “Just so you have a choice.” No choice was necessary because those snickerdoodles were the best cookie on earth. A doctor and a baker!

After our lunch we took a walk around the beautiful mansions on the water. Many are for sale because few people can afford to live in such huge houses and keep them up. We would try and guess how much they were on the market for and then look them up online to see who guessed the right number. We passed one particularly fabulous property and it had the most appropriate sign on the gate, “estate watch”. I always wonder who calls their own house “an estate?”  
The best part about this trip is getting to talk and talk with my friend who I have known almost my whole life. The worst part is that it is very short and at some point I need to sleep. I told Nancy that she and her husband should retire to North Carolina then I could see her more. Also the houses are much less expensive and very few of them require estate watch.

A Purposeful Slow Day

I’ve been on the road for four days. Today was specifically planned to be my low day in terms of how many people I was visiting. I purposely planned to spend today with my friend Suzanne, her husband Steve and two of her kids, Grace and Jack, who are as close to me as family can be.  
Yesterday when Suzanne asked me what we should do for dinner tonight I said I should cook. What good is it to have me as a friend if I don’t cook for you. Not that Suzanne needs help with cooking since she herself is a great cook. But Grace is about to embark on moving into her own apartment and has a grown up job, so she wanted to learn a little cooking. 

With the dinner plans made Suzanne suggested that she, Grace and I go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. So my down day really became my down day. Not that our tour and the historical exhibits were not just about one of the best done museums I have ever been too, just that having lived through that day live it was very sad to see it all again in person.

After the tour the weight of the whole thing caused us to need to sit on one of the benches in the museum and recover. I asked Grace, who was just in first grade at the time the planes hit the towers, to recollect what she remembered from the day since she lived here in NYC. She told me it was picture day and all her classmates were getting picked up from school throughout the day so by the time the photographer came to her class the were just four girls left and they still took the picture. She said she has never seen the picture, but I would love to see it. I wonder what her teacher looked like since she certainly knew what was going on downtown. It was the one day in my life that changed the world.

Despite the planned down day, and the sobering visit to the memorial it was also a fun day. We cooked a good dinner, teaching Grace how to make red wine vinegar chicken. Then before and after dinner Jack, Suzanne, Steve and I played bridge. There was a marked improvement in our playing from one night to the next. If it weren’t for Steve having to go to bed to prepare for a 5:30 golf tournament we still would be playing.
The Worden/Farley family are such good hosts that they make you never want to leave and I really don’t want to, but I also want to see the next friend on the trail. I guess it is best to leave while everybody wants you to stay. I would hate it if I heard someone say, “When is Dana leaving?”

Domino of Fun

Talk about packing it in. I started my day with a cereal with my friend Suzanne. Then a wonderful friend from boarding school, Karen Polcer Bdera, affectionally known as Miss Polcer, for her efficient manner, came to take a walk with me. It has been a few years since we had seen each other at a reunion so it was nice to have some one-on-one time together. Karen has done 505 New York Road Races as a speed walker so it was a challenge to me to get some steps with her. She was kind, especially since it was already 87° in the shade at nine in the morning.
After our walk and short visit ended I went and sat with Suzanne while her Jeffery did her hair. He is stylist to all the Worden women, and since I am an honorary sister it was high time I met him. Of course he couldn’t do my hair since I hardly have any, but he was fun to talk with.  

After showering and preparing to go out for the day in a civilized way Suzanne and I went crosstown to a yummy Japanese Restaurant where our friend Rena came and met us. Rena is my friend I saw in LA last month, whom I had not seen in over 33 years. Now we have seen each other two months in a row. The three of us were all sorority sisters and this is a good streak of spending time together.

While at lunch Rena said that two other Pi Phi’s were in NYC and wanted to meet us for coffee after out long lunch where the restaurant actually threw us out and locked the door behind us we walked a few blocks to a different location. There Cindy and Randy came in and met us. Since they were in the class ahead of us it has been even longer since I had last seen them.
After all the catching up Suzanne and I went home to rest from so much fun. There we met Grace’s little sister’s little sister from her sorority, Gracia. In the small world I had known of her because she had moved to Durham some years back and attended Durham Academy so she could train as a diver at Duke with Christy Cutshaw, another friend’s daughter. I know it sounds complicated, it is.

At last Steve, Suzanne’s husband came home as well as Jack her oldest son so we started up a big game of bridge. The Farley family is a fanatic group of game players which is just another reason I love to spend time with them. Suzanne mentioned that she has never won a game of Monopoly against Jack and he said he had never won one against me. And then Grace came in and not knowing of that conversation mentioned that I had always beat her in Monopoly. Thank goodness we weren’t playing Monopoly because I might have lost and broken my streak with them.
All in all it was a most excellent day, got my exercise done with a fun friend, saw many sorority sisters, played lots of games and ate some yummy food.  And to top it all off I got to play with the newest Farley family member, Esme, their black lab puppy.  How can I top that tomorrow?

Friendships Last

I have twelve minutes left in this day to try and put down into words what a great day it has been. It is a miracle I am still awake given what I have packed into this day and I wish that I could have a few more hours.
The day started early at my friend Wendy’s house in Pennsylvania. We drove to NYC so we could spend the day together and have dinner with our friend Steve who we went to school with us in France. As Steve texted me tonight after the dinner was over, “It is very rare that three people from one trip 37 years ago would stay such good friends.” I feel like that is the theme of my road trip. I am traveling north and visiting so many of my very favorite people from all parts of my life.    
When Wendy and I finally made it through the Lincoln tunnel I dropped her off a few blocks from Times Square so she could buy us tickets to a play. In the meantime I drove uptown to my matron of honor Suzanne’s house to drop my many suitcases and deposited my car in her garage and set off on foot to meet up with Wendy.
We ate lunch and went to see War Paint the play about the rivalry between Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. It was a fun way to spend a hot afternoon before we joined Steve. We laughed, ate, told stories and it seemed as if we still were in France together. Parting was not so sad since we seem to be getting better at having these reunions. Next one we need Marty D’Luzansky to join us.
I took the new Second Avenue Line up to Suzanne’s. It’s day two of my trip and my second great reunion. Suzanne is my best friend from college. I was her Maid of honor and she was mine. I love her family like, well better than family. I fell immediately into the familiar pattern of sitting at her dining room table talking with her husband Steve and her daughter Grace, who just graduated from Stanford. There just is not enough time in the day to have all the conversations we start when we are together. I hated having to tell Suzanne and Grace that I had to write this blog and to kick them out of my room. And it is posting late, but it makes little difference when I have had such a fun day. Now I must try and sleep because day three of this trip is not going to be any less full with fun reunions and lots of friends.  
Now that I think about it I don’t think it is so rare that you can stay friends with people you loved at one time. Once you’ve loved them you always love them. The hard part is finding the time to keep up with them. If there is one thing I have learned, it does not matter how long it has been between visits, you just pick right up where you left off.

My Friend’s Twin is Actually Her Daughter

My first stop on my big road trip is at my friend Wendy’s house. We went to school in France together and like to pretend we are still in college. Although I have come to Wendy’s before and even spent the night, I somehow have always missed meeting her daughter Jackie.
For the longest time I wondered if Jackie was some kind of child spy because she would be away during the school year as well as the summer. At last on this visit I finally got to meet Jackie and it is like seeing Wendy when we first became friends in college. Jackie is actually two years older than Wendy was when we were in France together.
As I sat across the dinner table from the two of them it was like seeing double. Wendy has not aged one minute and somehow she has a daughter who looks not just like Wendy did at 19, but amazing like Wendy still looks. Wendy’s husband also has not aged in the looks department so Jackie has hit the genetics jackpot.
Talking to Jackie is like hearing Wendy thirty-seven years ago. I can close my eyes and imagine we are in Nantes, buying croissant and listening to Linda Ronstadt albums at the French record store. It is kind of cool that I never met her as a little girl because I probably would not have thought I was seeing double like I do now.  
I’m not sure how thirty-seven years could have gone by in a blink. Yes, I’ve lived a lot in those years, but I can so easily put myself back there. The only difference is now I can’t eat the croissant but records are making a comeback.  
Thanks to Wendy, Jeff and Jackie for providing the best first place to stop on my big trip.

Shoe Lover Suitcase

I am a notorious carry-on only traveler. Over the years we have had enough lost suitcases and got tired of waiting for baggage on carrousels that I put my foot down with my family that we learn to fly with carry-ons only. This meant traveling with no more than three pairs of shoes; One I am wearing and two I am carrying.  
I am embarking on my east coast road trip. I depart for Philly, go on to NYC, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and back again. With all these stops I have decided to drive and not fly. This changes everything about my tried and true packing rules. I went to the attic and pulled out my very favorite old suitcase.  

It is one I traveled the world with for years and years as a consultant. I call it the “shoe lover suitcase.” It has a separate compartment in the bottom made just for shoes. Now I am sure I could go on this trip with three pairs and be perfectly fine. I am only taking clothes in neutrals and blues so it is not like I need a big variety of colors. It just seems like I have a whole car to myself, so why not be prepared for whatever I come across?
Of course the car will not be that empty. I am also taking all of Carter’s college linens for when she gets to Boston in January. This is really planning ahead, but we are not planning on driving her to college in January so the more I can get there while I am driving up the better. Thank goodness for good family who are willing to store these things until January.
Don’t tell Carter I am bringing a big suitcase. She is going to try and lobby me to change my carry-on only family rule. I would change my tune if we had our own plane. I am hoping that will be an incentive to her to get a really good job someday. For now, as long as she is a camp counselor we will be flying commercial and only take three pairs of shoes.

Empty Nest Advantages

Carter is gone one day and Russ and I are having a blast. I can only write this in the hopes that Carter is so busy with her new campers that she has no time to look at my blog. (Usually I assume she never looks at the blog, then I post a photo of her and she comments.)

This morning one of Russ’ friends and favorite clients, Gary, his girl friend Jamie and her kids came over for a very long breakfast. Since they had driven all the way from Wisconsin we were happy to have them come and spend lots of time with us. Hell, what else did we have to do? (Oh church. Sorry I haven’t been in a while. I’ve been busy. I’ll be back in the fall. Don’t worry, I still believe.)
As Russ and I were preparing food I had to keep sending Russ to the storage closet downstairs that is normally locked because it is where we store all the liquor. “Hey, we can leave that closet unlocked!” I told him. With no teenagers coming and going from our house we don’t have to “lock up the liquor for insurance purposes.” Not saying anything ever did happen, but just making sure nothing ever would.
After Gary and his gang left to go look at Duke, Russ and I each did our various exercises and then I decided that Shay needed a haircut. She had missed her regular grooming because of our last minute trip to D.C. a couple of weeks ago. Her hair was becoming a problem and since she could not get an appointment until August I thought it best to take off the long hair myself to prevent matting. This is something Carter would have thrown a fit over. She consider my dog grooming to be animal abuse. For the record Shay did not get hurt, cut or injured in anyway. It is just the kind of indignity one gets when they are four and their five year old brother decides he is interested in becoming a hairdresser and you are his first client. Cutting bangs are harder than it looks. It would have been better if your brother just admitted he was gay.
Finally in our last defiant act of our empty nest rebellion. We skipped lunch and ate dinner in bed. The good news is we still wore clothes all day. I promise the empty nest is still rated PG.

Six Week Empty Nest Practice

Today Carter was up bright and early because she was “going home.” Home happens to be Camp Cheerio. She is a second year junior counselor, a job she loves more than everything else. She had a week of training at the beginning of the summer and came back so enthusiastic to be the best counselor ever. She said that at training she wished kids were going to show up the next day just so she could try out all the new games, ice breakers and devotionals she learned at training.
I know that the four weeks off between training and work have not dulled her enthusiasm. She got the co-counselor she wanted and the cabin and age group she wanted so all is right with the world. The only bad thing is that the Wal-mart in Elkin had a fire last week and is closed until it can be restocked. Carter was hopeful that they would have new cats in space t-shirts or whatever happens to be the ugly shirt craze of the year.

Carter’s “sister E” Ellis brought breakfast this morning to have one last goodbye. They won’t be seeing each other until Christmas because Ellis has to leave for college while Carter is still at camp. Russ and I had a few minutes with Carter, but she packed her car herself, and drove off without looking back.
Today was the first day of our new life. We went out to breakfast, shopped for food, did three loads of laundry, and even went to the movies together. The house has never been cleaner, or quieter, or darker. Eventually we will get used to it. At least I know that Carter is in her happy place. What more can you ask for as a parent?

Is it Real Back Pain or Just Stress?

About a week ago I pulled a muscle or did something to my back while I was walking. Getting old sucks. I was just walking, not doing anything crazy like lifting 120 pounds over my head or chopping down a tree with an axe. I did it while I had a terrible cold so I was more concerned with breathing than with my back. Fast forward to today and my cold is gone, and now I really notice my back.
It hasn’t stopped me doing my tread mill work first thing in the morning, but I do look like a ninety year old woman the rest of the day as I shuffle along. Since I had a busy day today I was in and out of the car. Despite being almost a hundred degrees I ran my seat heater to help the soreness. It made my back feel better, but certainly heated up my butt to an uncomfortable temp.
Tonight Russ, Carter and I had our last dinner together before she leaves in the morning to go to Cheerio to work for the next six weeks. My back was hurting more than ever. I think the stress of her leaving was adding to the pain. I needed to do something to change the situation. I remembered that Carter had a Tens machine we got for her knee rehab after her meniscus surgery.
Since she had done a deep cleaning of her room and had packed for camp there was a good chance she might be able to find the expensive piece of equipment. Not only did she find it, she did it in record time. Now here I sit with the little pads stuck to either side of the painful area of my back. They are buzzing away in the most wonderful way and I have no pain at all. I don’t know how long the pain will stay away once I turn the thing off, but for now I am happy. God bless whomever invented this thing. Now if my back can just be convinced that Carter is going to her happy place and the rest of us will be fine.

Eating Down The Refrigerator

Leftover management is a sport in our house. I am notorious for cooking too large amounts when I cook. My attitude is, while I am going to the trouble to make something I might as well double it and have it for more than one meal. It is at least half as much work per meal. Russ is a good sport and likes leftovers. And for bonus points he always asks me what is the oldest thing in the fridge and eats that rather than letting it go bad.
Since Carter is leaving for camp and I am going on a big road trip I am trying not to add too much to the already full fridge because Russ eats so little when I am gone. I am also tying extra hard to eat healthy and reverse my political pound therapy.  
Russ and Carter commented to each other last night that we were making a dent in the leftovers. I knew Carter was not going to be any help today because she had a goodbye lunch and dinner with friends who she won’t see until she comes back from Berlin. So this morning I planned that Russ and I would just keep soldiering through the Tupperware tonight. Perfect plan since I had a busy day of meetings in Raleigh.
Then as I was getting in my car I noticed a squash in the garden that had to be picked. I went over to the plant without my clippers and twisted the fruit until the green stem broke. While I was bent over the plant I noticed another bright yellow squash. So I picked that one. Then another. “Oh jeez, I might as well go get the clippers.”
When it was all said and done I had eight big yellow squash and three huge zucchini. I also had two over grown squash that I cut, but left in the garden to become volunteer seeds for next year. So much for no new food. I knew I should cook these things today to take advantage of their freshness and give us as much time as possible to eat it.
So I added to the leftover supply by making a big pot of yellow squash and onions and stuffed zucchini. The good news is no new food was purchased to make these dishes. The bad news is we are going to be sick of squash if we have to eat it at every meal for the next three days. So much for the dent in the refrigerator. I really should adopt three teenage boys, they could solve this problem.

Tomato Pie- The Recipe

I thought that I had posted this recipe on the blog long ago.  When I blogged about tomato pie yesterday I got a bunch of requests for the recipe.  Turns out I had written the recipe for Durham Magazine, but not the blog.  Here it is.  It is the taste of summer,  but it is not a diet recipe.

1 blind baked piecrust

1 large sweet onion – sliced thinly

1 T. butter

1 t. sugar

2 large ripe tomatoes – sliced ½ inch thickness

20 large basil leaves shredded

½ c. Mayonnaise

½ c. grated cheddar cheese

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
To blind bake a pie crust, line with foil and then use beans, rice, or pie weights to hold the crust down from puffing up and bake in oven for 30 mins.  
In a fry pan over medium heat melt butter and add onions. Cook until light brown. Sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking until dark brown. This will take about 40 minutes.
Place cooked onions in bottom of piecrust. Layer basil and tomatoes on top of onions. Salt and pepper the tomatoes. Mix mayo and cheeses together and spread over the tomato layer. Bake for 30 minutes.

Fourth of July Tomato Pie

Yesterday I made ten Fourth of July tomato pies for my friends. I had gotten a case of tomatoes from the farmers market and needed to use them up before going on my road trip. The pies turned out great, but my ovens were more than a little dirty when I was done.
Tonight for our Independence Day dinner I reheated our pie and the smoke billowed out of the oven into the kitchen. I decided it was time to clean the oven. What better time than Fourth of July night? Carter was going to a party and Russ and I are home chilling.
Cleaning my oven is not really much work since it is “self cleaning.” It means I push a button and the oven locks and heats itself up to a very high temperature and burns all the gunk in the oven up. Well, maybe tonight wasn’t the best time. The house got smoked up. We had to open all the windows and doors to keep the smoke alarm from going off and it is just a little muggy to have the doors open.
I am not sure I have an answer to keep this from happening again, except for not cooking at all. I wonder if I clean it more often if it would smoke as much. I feel like it would still smoke and that means smoking up the house more often.
I hope everyone enjoyed their pies. Tomato pie is a family favorite here at our house and I am not making one pie at a time. In the end the dirty oven is worth it.  

Farmer’s Bounty Shrimp Salad

I went to the farmers market and bought the most beautiful shelled butter beans, corn and tomatoes. I could have made succotash with the beans and corn, but decided to make it a main corse my adding shrimp and a vinaigrette. It was hearty yet refreshing.
1 pound fresh shelled butter beans, you cold use field or black eyed peas

5 ears of corn -shucked

2 big red tomatoes -chopped

2 pounds of shrimp

1/3 cup red onion-minced

3 stalks of celery -chopped

1 cup of fresh chopped basil
1 shallot minced

1 clove of garlic-grated on the micro plane

4 T. Olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

2 T. Dijon mustard

2 T. Lime juice

2 T. Hot sauce

1 t. Ground coriander
Cook the butter beans starting in cold water and simmering for 20 mins. Drain, slant and set aside to cool.
Cook the corn on a hot grill, turning every four minutes until all sides are black/brown/yellow. Cut the kernels off the cob. If that is too much trouble for you you can use frozen corn and cook it in a fry pan sprayed with Pam. Cool the corn
Boil the shrimp, that means put it in boiling water for just a few minutes. The worst thing you can do is over cook shrimp. Peel and cut in half if it is really big shrimp. Cool the shrimp.
Put all the veggies and the shrimp in a big bowl.
Mix up the vinaigrette and pour over the salad. Put in the refrigerator. Let marinate for a few hours, stirring every so often. Keeps well so can be made a day or two in advance.

A First For Shay

Before Shay Shay became a member of our family I was under the impression that both Labradors and Poodles were great water dogs. Considering they both were known for being retrievers it only made sense to me. Knowing this, I assumed that labradoodles would automatically be great swimmers.
Then Shay come into our lives. We brought the young puppy to the farm where she could swim in the pool. It was an unsuccessful endeavor. She disliked the water, she shivered and clung to Carter with all her claws. Maybe she was too young, maybe the water was too cold. We took her out of the pool and did not torture her again.
The next summer we tried again. No swimming for this doodle. She also showed a dislike for having wet paws. Refused to go outside in the rain and when walked at the Eno did not like to go near the river. How did we get this non swimming dog?  
We could not coax her into the water year after year. Perhaps two swimming genes canceled each other out and despite her heritage she was just not going to like water. Today we went to the farm so Carter could spend some quality time with her grandparents before she leaves for camp and then Berlin. It was a hot day. Carter and I enjoyed the pool. Russ walked Shay out in the back field. She came back very hot. We decided to try one more time to introduce her to the joys of a cool dip in the pool.
Carter held her tight like a baby and slowly put her legs in the water. She didn’t complain. She didn’t try and climb up on Carter’s head. She didn’t shiver in fear like she had every other time we tried to get her to swim. Instead she appeared to enjoy the cool, but not cold water. Carter put her on a float and there she relaxed in the water for a good while. We didn’t tempt fate, by asking her to swim. Instead we just let her float with Carter right by her side.  
We considered it a huge victory. I am not sure she will ever become a “water” dog, but I am so happy she got to cool off and join the family in the water, rather than pacing the side of the pool worried that we were in the water and she was not. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye

Four years ago when I was in charge of the welcoming committee for the upper school I gave myself the most interesting new family coming to the school for me to mentor. They were from South Africa and had twins, a boy and a girl, joining Carter’s class. Being a new family’s mentor sometimes gets you a new friend, but this time it got our whole family four new friends. It is a rare occasion when all the Lange’s like all the people in one family, but the Ushpol’s are those rare kind of friends.
Carter and Cait became great friends and Cait has been a fixture at our house. Adam is easy going enough to put up with us. Mark and Russ talk about business all the time and Kelly has learned Mah Jongg and played with me for years. The Ushpols would come to the farm for thanksgiving and were great sports when the crazy Carter conversation went awry. We celebrated birthdays, went to auctions and toured college together.  
It was a sad day when Mark got a new job in Atlanta last year, but Kelly and the twins stayed in Durham to finish school. So I had a whole year to not think about their moving. But now the move is actually happening in this week.
We had the Ushpols and another friend, the Roses, for dinner tonight as one last time together while they still lived here. It was like so many of our dinners, talking politics and what the children will be doing when they go off to college. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about their move. I couldn’t toast our friendship or how much we have loved having them in Durham. I am in denial that they are leaving. Perhaps it is that the children are all going off to college so I feel like Kelly and Mark are just going to college too.
This isn’t goodbye forever. Adam is going to UNC so I know I will see them at parents weekend when they come and stay at the Lange Bed and Breakfast. Kelly is a consummate communicator so I am sure I will get plenty of texts, Facebook comments and blog responses, still I am sad. Another ending. And who is going to come to the farm for thanksgiving with us and entertain my parents? The Ushpol’s were the last family I mentored and I saved the best for last.